Wednesday Morning Science Supplement is an Open Thread
|From Yahoo News Science|
1 Monaco seeks global bluefin tuna trade ban
Tue Jul 28, 12:02 pm ET
|GENEVA (AFP) – Monaco has tabled a proposal to place Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna on the list of the world’s most endangered species in a move that could ban international trade of the fish.
As one of the most popular sushi staples, bluefin tuna has become increasingly in demand in recent years and its stocks have plummetted over the last decade in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Now, according to a draft proposal put forward by Monaco with CITES, the UN agency against illegal wildlife trade, stocks are so fragile that the species should be classified as being at threat of extinction.
2 DR Congo needs clear logging policies: Greenpeace
Tue Jul 28, 10:45 am ET
|KINSHASA (AFP) – Greenpeace has urged authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo to clarify reforms bringing transparency to the logging sector in the world’s second biggest rainforest after the Amazon.
The “objective is still far from being reached,” the global environment campaign group said in a letter to the minister of the environment, a copy of which was given to AFP on Tuesday.
“It is urgent to have clarifications of the current situation, marked by irregularities.”
3 Canada to take seal ban fight to WTO
Tue Jul 28, 2:06 am ET
|OTTAWA (AFP) – Canada said it would take its fight for the country’s seal hunting industry to the World Trade Organization, vowing to appeal a European Union decision to ban imported seal products.
“We are very disappointed with this ruling. We believe strongly this violates the World Trade Organization guidelines,” International Trade Minister Stockwell Day told reporters, insisting the hunt is “humanitarian, scientific and follows environmental rules of sustainability.”
In a decision taken without debate, EU foreign ministers earlier adopted a ban on seal products from Canada, ruling the goods cannot be marketed in the 27 EU nations. Three countries — Denmark, Romania and Austria — abstained with all others voting in favor.
4 Climate change: New study backs UN panel on ocean rise
Sun Jul 26, 7:10 pm ET
|PARIS (AFP) – The UN’s climate panel has been backed over a key question as to how far global warming will drive up sea levels this century, a study published on Sunday says.
The UN experts are right that the oceans are unlikely to rise by an order of metres (many feet) by 2100, as some scientists have feared, it says.
But, its authors caution, low-lying countries and delta areas could still face potentially catastrophic flooding if the upper range of the new estimate proves right.
5 Panel backs NASA bid for bigger shuttle budget
By Irene Klotz, Reuters
Tue Jul 28, 10:23 pm ET
|CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – The United States needs to boost NASA’s budget by $1.5 billion to fly the last seven shuttle missions and should extend International Space Station operations through 2020, members of a presidential panel reviewing the U.S. human space program said on Tuesday.
A subcommittee of the 10-member board also proposed adding an extra, eighth shuttle flight to help keep the station supplied and narrow an expected five- to seven-year gap between the time the shuttle fleet is retired and a new U.S. spaceship is ready to fly.
A third option would keep the shuttle flying through 2014 as part of a plan to develop a new launch system based on existing shuttle rockets and components.
6 FDA says mercury dental fillings not harmful
By Susan Heavey, Reuters
Tue Jul 28, 9:32 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday silver-colored dental fillings that contain mercury are safe for patients, reversing an earlier caution against their use in certain patients, including pregnant women and children.
“While elemental mercury has been associated with adverse health effects at high exposures, the levels released by dental amalgam fillings are not high enough to cause harm in patients,” the FDA said, citing an agency review of roughly 200 scientific studies.
Still, in final regulations issued on Tuesday as part of an earlier legal settlement, it said the fillings were now considered “moderate risk” devices and will include details about the risks and benefits of the products. They will also carry warnings against their use in patients with mercury allergies or in poorly ventilated areas.
7 Scientists seek new tools to fight malnutrition
By BETSY TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 29 mins ago
|ST. LOUIS – Missouri researchers have launched a new effort in their fight against worldwide hunger: bringing together a doctor who has long treated the malnourished with plant scientists working to improve the nutritional content of food.
The group hopes to create a bridge from greenhouses and labs in Missouri to health centers and farms in regions where people die from malnourishment.
Three internationally known organizations based in St. Louis – the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital – have formed the Global Harvest Alliance. The partnership’s aim is to create inexpensive, nutritionally complete food to help the world’s hungry and undernourished.
8 Shuttle undocks after 11 days at space station
By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer
Tue Jul 28, 6:25 pm ET
|CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – After 11 days together in orbit, Endeavour undocked from the international space station on Tuesday and began its trip home, leaving behind a larger and more energized outpost.
The shuttle’s departure broke up the biggest off-the-planet gathering ever: 13 people in space. Seven astronauts headed back aboard the shuttle and six remained.
The two spacecraft parted company 220 miles above the Indian Ocean. Endeavour took a lap around the space station for some impressive picture-taking before pulling away for good. The shuttle is aiming for a Friday touchdown.
9 Final frontier: Crowd sees spaceship launcher fly
By TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press Writer
Mon Jul 27, 7:30 pm ET
|OSHKOSH, Wis. – Hundreds of earthlings turned their faces to the sky Monday to see an airplane built to launch a ship into space, watching the gleaming white craft soar overhead.
The twin-fuselage craft named WhiteKnightTwo, looking like two planes connected at the wing tips, circled the runway several times before touching down at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Air Venture annual gathering.
It was the first glimpse the public had of the plane, which was made by Virgin Galactic as part of its effort to jump-start commercial space travel. Its designers, engineer Burt Rutan and British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, watched and smiled from the edge of the tarmac.
10 China announces first panda from frozen sperm
By TINI TRAN, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jul 25, 9:45 am ET
|BEIJING – For the first time, a giant panda cub has been born in China after being conceived using frozen sperm, officials announced Friday – an innovation scientists hope will help the endangered species avoid extinction.
The new cub’s birth Thursday means breeders will no longer be forced to rely on semen from China’s few virile males, and may even be able to bring in sperm from zoos in San Diego, Mexico City or elsewhere.
That’s key to promoting a healthy panda population because too much inbreeding can lead to birth defects that would further threaten the survival of the species.
11 FDA action on mercury-based fillings enrages consumer groups
By Tony Pugh, McClatchy Newspapers
Tue Jul 28, 6:30 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – After more than three decades of controversy, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued new safety guidelines for mercury-based dental fillings that reaffirm the agency’s long-held position that their use isn’t a serious health threat to patients.
Tuesday’s announcement fulfilled a procedural act that Congress first ordered back in 1976 but that had languished for decades as the dental industry, consumer advocates and scientists debated the safety of mercury-based fillings, also known as “dental amalgams.”
Consumer groups, which have pushed for a ban on mercury in fillings, attacked the agency’s announcement and promised a court challenge.
12 Before Dinosaurs, the First Tree-Climber Revealed
Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience
Tue Jul 28, 9:32 pm ET
|Long before dinosaurs dominated the Earth, ancient relatives to mammals climbed forests to feed on leaves and live high above predators that prowled the land.
The elongated fingers, opposable “thumb,” long curved claws and grasping tail of a small, huge-eyed plant-eating animal known as Suminia getmanovi demonstrate that this is the earliest known tree-climbing vertebrate, scientists now reveal.
These findings shed light on the giant shifts in what animals dined on before the dawn of the dinosaurs.
13 Healthcare Systems: U.S. vs. Japan
Christopher Wanjek, LiveScience’s Bad Medicine Columnist
Tue Jul 28, 4:05 pm ET
|Fukuoka, Japan-No one here in this island nation of 130 million has gone bankrupt as a result of medical fees. In a country notorious for $80 cantaloupes and coffin-size hotel rooms for $200, healthcare services are remarkably inexpensive.
Although I am fully insured in the United States, my family opts to opt out while in Japan, paying full price for basic health services such as dental, ophthalmology and otolaryngology. (That’s right: When’s the last time you’ve had a routine visit with an ear doctor.)
Such services cost about $20, the same price as my co-pay would have been stateside, and we don’t need an appointment.
14 Colder Climate Tied to Longer Animal Lives
LiveScience Staff, LiveScience.com
Tue Jul 28, 7:18 am ET
|The colder your environment, the longer you might live – if you’re cold-blooded – a new study finds.
This relationship between temperature and lifespan could have implications for cold-blooded species in our warming world, the study authors say.
Stephan Munch and Santiago Salinas, both of Stony Brook University in New York, were intrigued by a major difference in the lifespans of two populations of pearl mussels. One group in Spain had a maximum lifespan of 29 years, while another group in Russia lived up to 200 years.